At First News, we hear from hundreds of engaged and passionate young people, and the environment is undoubtedly their number one concern. Children are more informed than ever and want to make a difference, but might not know where to start.

How to Talk to Children About…Eco-Anxiety

A feeling of helplessness in the face of the world’s problems and fear about the future has led to a huge rise in eco-anxiety in young people, so here are some ways you can support your child.

1. Talk about their fears and the facts

We believe in arming young people with the facts, in a non-sensational way. We can’t tell our kids there’s nothing to worry about, but we can help them sort the facts from the worst-case scenarios they may be imagining.

Ask your child lots of open-ended questions about their concerns and make time to look through First News and other trusted sources together to find some balanced information.

2. Encourage kids to take one step at a time

Remind your child that no-one can change the world overnight. Every step in the right direction counts and every big movement started with a small step. By joining a beach clean or a litter pick, or choosing plastic-free products, they’re making the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. Read community message boards and forums for initiatives in your area.

3. Help to raise their voices

Find ways to make your child feel heard. You could encourage them to write to your MP, design powerful posters, or start a campaign. Alongside arming kids with the facts, First News’ mission is to raise their voices. Every week, we feature articles by children who tell us about the issues they feel strongly about and the projects they’re involved with, such as Annabelle and Lily, who invented a wearable tag to tackle air pollution.

This week’s front page features an inspiring group of readers we took to Downing Street, where they posed questions to the Government and gave their suggestions for tackling climate change. Encourage your children to share their stories with us at [email protected]

4. Point out the positives

It’s important to keep repeating that there is far more good in the world than bad. There are so many people working to change the world for the better and lots of things to feel positive about. We recently started a series of reports called Planet Positive, which highlights the amazing work being done to protect our planet, from rewilding projects in the UK to urban farming in Argentina.

Last week we reported on the fantastic initiatives awarded the Earthshot Prizes, including Food Waste Hubs and a device that converts waste parts of crops into fuel and fertiliser.

5. Find ways to manage anxiety

As well as talking about their worries, encourage your child to find an outlet for their stress and a way to unwind, whether it’s sport, yoga, connecting with nature or being creative. The NHS advises that if your child has severe anxiety that persists and interferes with their daily life, it’s a good idea to seek help.

Contacting your GP is a good place to start, and see also Young Minds.

By Keilly Swift, Managing Editor, First News

28th October 2021

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